ISLAMABAD - Pakistan has hit out at India for its about-face as it backtracked on its claim of killing very large number of ‘terrorists’ in Balakot air strike.

Reacting to India’s admission on Thursday that its so-called air strike in the Balakot area of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on February 26 did not cause any casualties — military or civilian — Pakistani military’s spokesman lashed out at the Indian government for lying to the international community and the Indian public about the airstrike.

“Finally the truth under ground reality compulsions. Hopefully, so will be about other false Indian claims i.e. surgical strike 2016, denial of shooting down of 2 IAF jets by PAF and claim about F16. Better late than never,” Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor, DG ISPR, wrote on his official Twitter handle.

“No Pakistani soldier or citizen died in the air strike carried out by the Indian Air Force (IAF) across the border in Balakot,” Indian Minister for External Affairs Sushma Swaraj said while addressing an election gathering in the city of Ahmedabad. She admitted no Pakistani was killed or hurt in the airspace violation by Indian jets.

New Delhi had claimed on February 26 that the IAF jets had carried out what it called pre-emptive strike in Balakot against a camp of Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM), the group it alleges was behind the February 14 killing of its 40 soldiers in Pulwama.

The same evening, Indian Foreign Secretary Vijay K Gokhale boasted at a news conference that the biggest training camp of Jaish-e-Muhammad was targeted by the IAF in which a very large number of JeM terrorists, trainers, senior commanders and groups of jihadis who were being trained for fidayeen action were eliminated. Pakistan quickly allowed local and foreign media access to the site where IAF jets had “jettisoned their payloads”.

Independent foreign experts later contradicted the Indian claim with the help of satellite imagery which showed no infrastructural damage at the site. The Pakistani military took foreign military attaches and international media on a tour of the area to expose India’s pack of lies because the only compound in the vicinity is a madrassah which stood intact.

A day after the Balakot incursion, Pakistan Air Force (PAF) jets carried out strikes in Indian Occupied Kashmir and then shot down two IAF warplanes in dogfights, capturing one of the pilots alive, much to the embarrassment of New Delhi. India claimed that its air force had also downed an F-16 jet in the dogfight – a claim that it couldn’t substantiate with evidence. The tweet by the DG ISPR has asked the Indian government to also speak truth about Pakistani claim of shooting down of 2 IAF jets by the PAF and the Indian claim about downing a PAF’s F-16 in the dogfight.